Monday, February 1, 2016

Another one done?

So apparently Optimus Prime is not the only thing in the galaxy that can give Megatron pause.

Apparently the NFL can do a number him, too.

This upon the news that Megatron -- aka, all-universe wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- is apparently set on retirement, at the hardly geriatric age of 30. Nine seasons going across the middle in the NFL have left him with a bum ankle and various and sundry other old-man aches and pains, and so when the season was over, he reportedly went to Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and said, "That's it. I'm done."

It remains to be seen if he sticks to it, but if he does, he'll be the latest in a lengthening line of players who are leaving pro football at 30 or younger, deciding the game is no longer worth the candle. And although Johnson doesn't mention it as a determining factor, it would a shock if the growing link between playing in the NFL and developing serious brain damage didn't at least occur to him.

He is, after all, an intelligent man. And he plays a position as vulnerable to head trauma as any on the field. Like everyone else he reads the news, and like everyone else CTE is no news to him. It's hard to imagine all that brain damage being found inside the heads of dead football players hasn't registered with him.

Even if it's not a consideration in his decision to quit while he can still walk, it certainly has been for a number of players who've preceded him on this path, some of them quitting as young as 26. That's going to be the biggest impact of the discovery of CTE and the long-term ravaging of the brain that comes with playing football: The timeline for the average NFL career is about to change radically.

The Blob could be wrong about this -- its crystal ball is notoriously cloudy -- but its considered opinion is we're going to see fewer and fewer NFL players playing into their mid-30s and beyond from here on out. The Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings of the world are going to become even more outliers than they already are; the norm may wind up being six or seven seasons and then out. Beyond that, after all, it's become increasingly obvious that playing professional football either shortens your life or destroys its quality.

Which means Jerry Glanville was right all those years ago, albeit accidentally. The NFL, he famously said, stands for Not For Long.

This wasn't how he meant it, of course. But it was never more true.

No comments:

Post a Comment